Sunday, 16 March 2014

All the countries out to play (radio, that is)

Ive spent the last number of weeks popping on and off the air trying to chase some of those elusive countries Ive never been able to catch, to my surprise there are significantly more than I thought  for me to nab.

Some of the recent contests saw nice new stations on the air from different continents, which I have been unsuccessful in having a QSO with to date.  DXcc's like Zambia, Togo and Honduras have now entered my logs and given me a few new entities to my credit.  I know there are more exotic ones on the air, which I have heard, but the stampede of European stations have prevented me from working them ... yet.  Islands like Mariana and Malpelo have made an appearance in the cluster and have been heard by me about an S2-3 but again, operators 40db+ have totally drowned them out and no doubt similar responses have occurred on the other side on the receive.

I recently answered a PSK call from an operator in Korea (would have been a new DXcc) however 3 European stations from Russia, Ukraine and Germany called him over his response to me and drowned him out, I tried to go back to him to ensure he answered me (and that I had read correctly) but there was no signal from him after this, which made me extremely annoyed.

Despite this, Ive spent a lot of time listening, and also working PSK.  I have managed to work more DXcc's on new band slots than previously, and have also been looking at new modes for each entity when it arises.  This has resulted in my single band slots increasing with the new stations worked.  I was quite surprised to notice that some of the easier countries to work had not been done to date eg Spain on 17m, so it was nice to see those WARC bands getting a lot of action over the past few weeks.

My HRD map showing my QSO spots is looking a lot like a little childs drawing, lots of colour with very little to be seen underneath lol Europe is now invisible, so need to get working on those blank areas!

Ciao for now
Lisa, EI9GSB

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Anyone know where I can buy spare time?

Its been a while since I've posted here but it appears 24 hours in the day just isn't long enough!

I've a busy year to date, already had a great club activity at Blackrock Castle, arranged another activity for Marconi Day, and it's rally season again. 

Blackrock Castle was a great day, we kicked off Engineers Week on the 9 February and made some lovely contacts on 15m, including lots of US stations!  We were "fishing" for DX out the classroom window and Ciaran was surprised, to say the least, at being heard in the States with 1 watt!!! We also met some lovely people, some licensed, some not, but all having a great interest in the hobby.  We hope they enjoyed their experience. 

Out next planned event will be at Mizen Head Visitors Centre for Marconi Day which falls on the 26 April this year. As per usual, we spend the weekend at the location, which is absolutely beautiful, and make contacts all weekend long. Hopefully conditions will be good this year but if any of you are in the locale, pop in and say hello (subject to the Centres entrance fee of course)

I am also delighted to say that my son, Jordan, has now become licensed, having passed the HAREC exam last October. He is now better known as EI4HLB. He is currently working the world and in the process of chasing a few awards, and taking over the shack, which was already hard enough to use between me and Tony EI3GAB, but now I might as well build an extension for all the luck I'll get trying to operate lol

But most surprising of all is that I have been nominated by the IRTS (out national society) to be part of the committee for the forthcoming year. Being nominated alone is an achievement for me and well just have to wait and see what happens next, watch this space!

However the next few weeks will be taken over with personal commitments, trips to the big smoke (recreational of course) and rallies!  I love rallies, it's a great way to pick up bargains and chat to your friends, always a great buzz around. The next one for me is Limerick on 9th March, I'll be there with bells on!

Now I've just got to organise our Groups one for 7th September, details to follow

Ciao for now

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

My 3 year license anniversary

On the 29th October 2010, I received a telephone call from ComReg with my call sign, EI9GSB. I was so excited and couldn't wait to get on the air

I had taken the exam 2 weeks previously after an intense 8 week self study programme, and the thought of quitting had hit me a few times. I had no knowledge prior to this, no real experience and no idea of electronic components, or how they worked!  As I had begun to take part more in our radio  group, I had to overcome this hurdle. 

I remember going to Dublin and how I studied on that train journey, trying to bang in some past minute details, hoping they would stick. I remember the nervousness as I sat down, the initial shock and panic as I turned the page and the disection of the questions & answers afterwards as I tried to gaige how I'd done. 

When the results came out, everyone had told me how they had done but I had heard nothing, and still nothing 4 days later so I had to ring ComReg who advised they must've been an error with the sending of my results so I had to wait, the impatience I had!  But was delighted when I received that phone call - with my call sign! 

My first QSO was with Ciaran EI7GSB both  on HF and the local repeater! But that call sign arrived just in time for CQ WW and I had to work up the courage to take part but I did and loved it! It's been my favourite contest since.

Since that time I've become secretary of the North Cork Radio Group for the past 3 years, have attended IRTS meetings as club rep, have created and published our Group newsletter continuously, have organised a lot of the club activities, achieved my 100 DXCC, have taken part in YOTA 2013, have become part of the Yota web page admin (including writing up the 2013 activity summaries), and most proudly have helped my 14 year old son Jordan study for and achieve his full licensed call this month. 

I have made so many friends both locally and nationally, but also internationally it's amazing!  I recognise people from all over the world when dxing and love having qsos with them.  

I can't wait for the next 3 years!

Ciao for now

Thursday, 8 August 2013

YOTA continued

In day 2 of YOTA activities we began with some games for the kids to get to know each other in some small way i.e name or country.  The topic up for discussion was how we can get into the world of communications, how we got into the hobby as well as what study materials, if any, we available for the different countries and what could be done to make these more accessible or to assist the youngsters in any way.  This showed me that all countries have their own procedures (as to be expected) but that the materials they are supplied with are not always modern or current and this reflects in the exams questions.

In the afternoon, I didnt attend the scheduled activities as I wanted an chance to get on the air, so we went to the station which is situated in the park across the road.  One station between 80 hams is absolute murder, and trying to get a slot is trying to dig for gold.  A timetable has had to be drawn up to allow the hams get a chance to operate, however the timetable is set into teams so if you have 4-5 on your team, thats still about only 10-15 mins each (assuming everyone wishes to operate) which still isnt a lot of time considering.  However I still managed to get a number of QSO's in the log especially my own station (well my husbands station which sounded really well and managed to hear first time in the zoo) but the time was not enough for me and I had to allow someone else the chance after my 10 mins flew by.

In the evening there was a kit making class, the kids loved this one.  Ger EI4GXB helped the EI youngsters out with assembling the kit, explaining diodes, transistors, capacitors etc and showing them how to solder same.  They spent hours at this, even when the class had finished, so much so they were soldering util 10pm and still hadnt finished at that stage.

I had been invitied to my first leader meeting where all the leaders gathered to discuss the planning of hobbies, games, to express any issues etc.  I was a bit daunted about this as I wasnt the team leader, just a sub, but it was interesting to hear the background to the event activities, as well as upcoming plans for the days ahead.There were a few disagreements about certain things but in the end all was decided and delegated to the relevant participants.  I was excited to hear that the events for the following day were going to be of real interest to the youngsters as they appeared to love the hands on approach and this was perfect - antenna building and robotics.

It was another late one as noone seems to sleep in this place, huge groups of people outside, in the lobby etc just laughing and chatting, you couldnt say you had noone to talk to but I dont think it matters when the whole hotel is booked out by YOTA, so there is no need to consider anyone elses sleeping habits!  But what I find is that there always appears to be a supply of beer, I take it the local supermarket (which isnt very good but at least it has a good supply of beer), has been the root of this supply, in saying that though when you pay cheap prices for beer then I can see their attraction eg a bottle of Barcadi Breezer here is €1.59 where at home you pay at least €2.50 ish, scandalously cheap.  I have met some extremely fascinating ppl here though to include the girls

This morning (Thurs) we had a presentation by a Latvian team member on Free Energy.  To be honest, it didnt appeal to me very much as it appeared to be more about his belief in chakra and crystals, medicine circles and positive energy but Im sure some ppl found it interesting.  After that was the cool part - robots!!

The robots are cool little buggy type cars with sensors etc and we got to program them, which everyone loved, they were going back and forth, turning 360 degreees etc.  We then got an amount of time to try and program them to follow a set path, which I have to say was extremely funny and frustrating at the same time. We currently have use of them until Monday and you can find the geeks in the room building and changing same

In the afternoon we had the opportunity to build antennas out of measuring tapes and plastic pipes,  which were quite easy until it came to the soldering and adding the coax without sufficient tools. I decided to finish mine at home lol

However our presentation on our country is finally over, but although we had the projecter there was no sound so I had to totally wing it otherwise there would be silence which wouldn't be good. We got through it and even threatened to steal Ger "the leprechauns" crock of gold. 

Great night after all so looking forward to the next few

Ciao for now

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

YOTA - the beginning of 2013 event

So we arrived in Tartu yesterday and spent a lot of the day getting settled in, it was slightly awkward at first when you realised that most of the participants had been here last year and already new each other.  That along with the language barriers made it initially hard to develop a conversation past an occasional nod or small smile. 

The food again didn't live up to my expectations but at this stage I had come to expect that. Other than the brief hello in the corridors nothing much was happening until the welcome party later that evening. That mainly involved everyone drinking as much as they wished (obviously not youngsters) and one of the organisers playing music over a sound system.  By the end of the night most people were "well on" and there was a bit of Irish dancing involved but despite this I still didn't get to bed until 3am. 

Today was much better with the organisation of activities that allowed the participants to interact as well as get to know each other. The schedule of activities meant everyone knew where they were meant to be although I was quite surprised that not everyone took part and didn't seem to care one way or another about the blatant non attendance that was presumably the reason they were there, as I hadn't realised you had the option to attend the program but not the event which I presumes isn't the case. 

The ice breaker games, although seeming silly at the time, proved to be really fun and by the end of it I knew the name of every person in my group. Juri is the main organiser of be event this year and he did a great job today. He comes across as a really well mannered and soft spoken man who is extremely nice. 

Cultural night was held tonight and was a great success. So many different decorations and types of food etc to be tried and tasted, and everyone was so proud to tell us of their cultures, some of which were extremely fascinating. Although we didn't manage to get through all of the teams today, it'll continue through to tomorrow, albeit a big party was still had by the youngsters, with the music and dancing still in full swing even as I'm typing this, being 1.30am Estonian time. 

It'll be interesting to see what tomorrow holds for us and I presume it's an 8am start again so ill have to leave it for now. 

Monday, 5 August 2013

Estonia - Part 2

Yesterday we had another scorcher in Tallinn, approximately 23 - 25 degrees.  Breakfast was a non-starter so we went out for lunch instead to St.Patrick's.  Food in Estonia hasnt won me over I have to admit, and although I have tried a few new things, Im quite slow to pay for something I havent previously tried and which may cause me to be hungry later on for not liking it.  For example, I ordered garlic bread with cheese and when it came out, it looked like doner kebab that had been left out too long.  Now it tasted nice but too much of it and the salt was beginning to be the first hit of flavour you got.  So for lunch I had a chicken salad sandwich and some chips which was fine even if it did have a fried egg in it!

For dinner I would have loved a burger or pizza, something I would call normal, but we ended up in St. Patricks again where the dinner menu was the same as the lunch menu (which hadnt been outstanding by any means) so I decided to go for peppered steak which was the closest thing they had to red meat however on eating it, it was so spicy it burnt my taste buds.  Again another dissappointing meal.

However, the sights in Tallinn are stunningly beautiful and Kristjan (our new guide/chauffeur) kindly  brought us to the Teletorn Tower, a magnificent structure which brought us 21 floors up to the most amazing view of Tallinn ever, I havent seen a sight like this in my life.  It was spectacular, 360 degrees of contrasting industrial and forestry, mixed with a little suburbia and sea.  Astounding.

Following this we visited the beach, which again is not a sight we see Ireland where the forest meets the sand, and where the sand forms part of the forest floor.  It was beautiful, and the walk along the pier, although bumpy, was gorgeous.  It was my first time seeing guys sunbathe standing up!

Although the night did end on a high, we ended up in an Irish bar in Tallinn town centre with the lads from the Slovenian team and had a few drinks (although there was nothing Irish about the place other than the pictures of leprechauns on the wall and map of Ireland painted on).  As I was so hungry I stopped into Hesburger on the way back and got their equivilant of a Big Mac, which I have to say was pretty damn tasty.

So after spending another night in the €16 hostel, we were winging our way to Tartu on a Sebe bus which has the coolest monitors in their headrests ever, you could choose a movie, listen to music, play games etc etc.  It still doesnt take away from the 2.5 hours it took us to get here but well see how things go.  The hotel looks decent from the outside and the YOTA activities are just beginning.

Ciao for now
Lisa, EI9GSB

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Estonia - My first experience

As you may know, I'm part of team Ireland for YOTA (Youngsters on the Air) which this year is being held in Estonia. 

So my adventure started off yesterday (3rd August) on a bus trip to Dublin airport which turned out to be fine and we were there in no time, probably because I fell asleep and didn't notice the time passing. It was a long wait to our flight time as 4 hours seemed like an eternity, but nevertheless we flew with Ryanair. The flight itself was ok but towards the landing I began to feel a little nauseous due to the roller coaster-type bobbing around. 

Tallinn hits us like a tonne of bricks as the heat was stifling. At passport control there were 3 lines - the "I don't give a s**t  who u are", the "ill scrutinise you a little" and the "you ain't getting through my line for love nor money". Guess which one we were in?

After waiting for about 15 mins with no movement whilst some guy gets the 3rd degree, blood tested, DNA swabbed etc (not really but it could've been done in that time) we decided to switch queues and soon enough the "I don't give a s**t" controller had us sailing through to baggage claim in no time which was a brief hop skip and jump to the outside world. 

We were met by Christjan who even had one of the cards with the YOTA logo on it, how very New York!  He very kindly brought us to the nearest mall whilst he and Ger delivered our bags to the hotel. 

Not only was he out chauffeur but he also very kindly brought us out that evening to sightsee the amazing city of Tallinn with its charming medieval buildings, gorgeous scenery, capital hill and the view from there, and also to a local restaurant for a bite to eat. We ended our tour with a well deserved drink in St. Patrick's bar and some final shopping through little markets. 

A long deserved sleep was had and how today he will be bringing us to telephone tower which is near Tallinn harbour. 

The adventure isn't over yet, to be continued .......